If we didn’t let them climb the tree, they never would.
Last night, I sat with my love of twenty five years (tomorrow!) as we watched two of our boys blast one another with the garden hose. We have called the contractor to repair the sidewalk, but at this moment in time, I was glad we had waited. I was glad there were puddles, and I was glad my boys were soaking up the mud. Dan had stolen my thoughts as he wondered aloud if it might be their last night together.
Earlier in the weekend, Dan had crafted three steps and fastened them to the best climbing tree in the yard; now even the tiny ones could be that much closer to the sky. Ethan, upon returning from his three-minute birding adventure in his new hideout, announced that he had spotted one bird. He then turned over Grandma Ihm’s vintage binoculars and began plotting his next scheme. He had, though, been high up in the tree for the first time.
In a parade of stroller and bicycles, we filled more of our Saturday with a trip to the dollar store for ice cream treats. It had been a full day, and it had been as pleasant a weekend as we have had in a long time.
Of course, there is always redirection, and a rare day goes by without a physical struggle that results in a hold. I had felt my fingernails meet his smooth, pink flesh. I hoped I didn’t scratch him as I struggled to reason with this beautiful, fiercely unsettled seven-year-old. I am not as strong as I used to be. And I don’t know why your game isn’t loading, sweet boy. I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry for everything. I am sorry for the railroad tracks, the thunder, the bees, the wind, and for everything that invades your head and stirs your fears.
We are strong, through our weaknesses. We have no choice.
Ethan was calm and complacent during this morning’s routine. After finishing his “sixteen” pieces of cinnamon toast, he asked if Aaron would mind if he ate his leftover crusts. I offered to make him another piece, and he assured me that this would be a good idea, since Aaron’s crusts were probably full of drool. My boy, I will make you a million pieces of cinnamon toast. As we watch for the bus, I am reminded of a year ago where each morning was its own circus act. My heart would beat a mile a minute as I struggled to nearly drag him to the bus each and every morning.
Now, he knows. The morning fights are rare; he watches for the bus, and he has resigned himself to the fact that he goes to school each morning. Looking back from my calm morning today, I can certainly see that my boy has grown.
I know, and I am on high guard. I know that I was told on Friday that the hill is very steep, and that there is no traction. I wait for the call, because I have been told that the time will be soon, that intervention seems, once again, inevitable. We don’t want to go back. We have come so far.
We don’t want to go back where he is not understood, where nobody sits with him as he falls asleep, and where he is presented with trays of brown things with gravy. We don’t want to go to a place where the outcome will be no different than the last time.
Then the moments come, and there is nothing we can do. There is nothing anyone can do. We will be strong for him, and for them, because they are all we have.
My hip is bothering me a little bit these days, and I know, it’s a function of overuse. Of course. But I am sure I could still climb that tree, at least now that there are a few steps to help me up. If I were to climb the tree, though I may fall, I would also see far and wide, and long into the future.
I am sure that I would see him, and I am sure that he would be okay. He would be smiling, walking across the railroad tracks in a thunderstorm, and as soon as he came through the back door, I would make him as much cinnamon toast as he wanted.